Angels’ Starting Staff In Shambles

Despite including two miraculous comebacks in which the Angels became the first team since 1991 to win consecutive games in which they were behind by five or more runs in the seventh inning or later, making their record 2-0 when trailing by at least three runs entering the ninth inning while the rest of baseball is 0-59, over the or last four games, Angels starting pitching has now totally fallen apart.

In each of their last four games, Angels’ starters have failed to last more than five innings, each allowing five or more earned runs, and in a total of 18.2 innings pitched, Ricky

Nolasco, Jesse Chavez, Tyler Skaggs and Matt Shoemaker have combined for an ERA of 12.06, allowing 26 hits and 21 earned runs over that span.

With news about Garrett Richards not good and with a giant void in the starting staff looming for tonight’s game against Kansas City, veteran relief pitcher J.C. Ramirez, and his own 5.40 season ERA and lifetime 5.14 ERA, will make his first-ever major league start after 111 relief appearances with five different teams over the last three-plus seasons. Ramirez will begin the game with a 2-0 won-lost record, despite his overall lack of effectiveness, as his ERA and 1.80 WHIP would indicate.

The question is, if not Ramirez, who else? The thoroughly documented history of injuries to Angels’ starters over the past couple of years need not be revisited (click the “Angels” tag for numerous posts), but suffice it to say that with Richards out for now and with Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano each out for the season, there is little depth into which the team can reach out to for able-bodied replacements. Perhaps the next guy in line, Vicente Campos, is also currently disabled with a nerve problem in his throwing arm, and there does not appear to be any long-term prognosis or timetable for his return.

At the top of the list of healthy possibilities would be Alex Meyer, but after two starts at Triple-A Salt Lake City he is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.50 WHIP, and lefty Manny Banuelos who also after two starts has a solid 2.53 ERA despite a 1.41 WHIP and only five strikeouts against six walks in 10.2 innings pitched.

The question the team needs to ask is do they weather through what by all accounts figures to be a non-competitive season, waiting for the wounded to return next year, or do they put optimism at the top of the list, and make a trade (or two) to try to bolster the starting

staff and try their best to make a run this season? I’ve said all along that Jefry Marte needed to play everyday, preferably in left field, but so far the Maybin-Revere platoon has been slightly above passable, and Marte has been platooning at first with C.J. Cron, who also should be an everyday player, despite both hitting from the right side. Looming in the background is veteran lefty hitting power hitter Luis Valbuena, whose own return from the DL appears to still be at least three or four weeks away. So, should Cron be trade bait? What could the Angels get for him – a solid middle of the rotation starter? What team out there could and would want to make that kind of a deal?

How about a deal with Minnesota to get back either Ervin Santana or Hector Santiago?


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